Over the past 30 years, I’ve hired many people while working in different companies. Interestingly, other than preparing for interviews myself, I have never taken a formal course or workshop on hiring best practices.

I’m sure there are plenty of workshops available, but I think most hiring managers have zero formal education in this area.

Therefore, when we lack the proper training, we wing it and often only bring people onboard who we like, even though they may not be the most qualified. In many of these cases, the individuals we hire have similar backgrounds and interests as we do.

Culture Fit

I often hear HR professionals and hiring managers who are mostly interested in people who fit the culture of the organization.

What does this mean?

From my experience, managers think this means they should be comfortable around the employee. In fact, one HR Director told me that he asks himself the following question: “Is this the kind of person I could hang out with at a Happy Hour?”

I’ve heard this Happy Hour example said in various ways, such as the following: “Would I invite this person to have dinner with my family?”

The bottom line here is that the hiring is based on whether the candidate is deemed likeable. It has much less to do with the true meaning of culture fit.

Work Fit

I made up Work Fit here to make a point.

While I understand we must look for people who will fit the organizational culture, it is just as important we focus on the knowledge, skills, and competencies of the applicants. There are times when someone’s personality is different from ours, and this alone should not disqualify the applicant.

When speaking to a hiring manager, she noted that her company requires at least two people involved in the hiring process.

As she put it to me, “We learned over the years that when one person had the ultimate authority in the hiring process, we were rejecting excellent candidates. In fact, we realized that sometimes we formed biases against an applicant from the very beginning, and immediately knew we would not hire this person … just because one hiring manager had a bad feeling about the candidate.”

This “bad feeling” observation is unquantifiable. Does it mean we feel the person lacks the skills to do the work? Does it mean the individual lacks motivation? It’s difficult to define, so a better, more objective hiring process should be in place.

Take a Chance

Instead of evaluating the candidate’s potential based solely on our likeability factor, let’s take the time to explore more about the applicant. In other words, avoid judging the candidate based solely on the first impression.

Given the dynamic nature of work today, many employers are taking a chance with candidates. One IT manager mentioned to me that he hired an individual with entry-level technology experience to serve as a Project Lead. He noted that the candidate discussed innovative ideas for helping the company grow, and this was more important to him than hands-on IT skills.

I also want to remind hiring personnel that we must show patience during the interview process. For the most part, candidates are doing their best in interviews, but some of them are nervous and afraid to say the wrong thing. Let’s find out what makes the interviewee tick. If we are prepared to ask the right questions, in the right way, at the right time, we just might learn something valuable about how the candidate can benefit our organization.